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My Journey

My quest for community began with a push and a prod: I did not want to end up like my parents. I cared and watched over them in the best way that a grown daughter with a stressful life can, but eventually they died in a nursing home. I did not want to have anything to do with that way of aging alone and being warehoused.

At the time, I chose to end my 30-year corporate career. I did not have any children and I was divorced. I was like many of us. Whether we’ve raised children or did not have any, we reach a time in our lives when we are either left with our spouse or alone. The prospect of retirement doesn’t seem as much fun when a) you don’t want to retire and b) you start to consider how you will take care of yourself when the time comes and you do want to retire.

At this point I did see the silver lining… like many of us Boomers, my corporate life ended and I could now CHOOSE what I really wanted to do and pursue my passion (I wish the marketers could get this) and it wasn’t a hobby or traveling. Instead I would put my years of experience, wisdom, network of friends and contacts to work and pursue my vision. I’d spent many years talking to my friends about emulating the Golden Girls living arrangement and lifestyle. It was suddenly time to do something about it. No time to waste.

A Rocky Journey

I moved to Asheville, North Carolina with a male partner in 2006 after leaving my career in Human Resources in Silicon Valley. I was done with the corporate thing and wanted to live and breathe my passion. Asheville was the perfect place with its beauty full of retirees, passionate artists and progressiveness. I knew after only two visits this was the place for me. We both wanted to develop intentional communities for us as we age.

2007 was the first Women for Living in Community Conference in Asheville with over 100 women attending at the Center for Creative Retirement at UNC-Asheville (now known as OLLI – Osher Lifelong Learning Institute), a well-known destination for many investigating learning and aging.

I conducted workshops locally in 2009 and 2010 bringing together more women who wanted to live in community to meet, learn, and further the practical tools and knowledge for taking the next steps. My website and “Golden Girls” living arrangement brought NBC news to our house in November 2011 and numerous interviews and media attention to this trend. Potlucks, core groups, seminars and conferences helped hone my skills and knowledge of people and community.

There has been a great deal of experimentation. I owned 2 houses in a 3 house infill property for 3 years with the expressed purpose of a small community. I lived with another woman in her house for a brief time. Today, I live in a big house with three other women, all over the age of 45. I live in a neighborhood I would normally not be able to afford alone, with plenty of walking and only the sound of nature outside my window. I love every minute of it. The media continues to love this concept and asks for interviews and I love doing it to show there are alternative housing choices.
As I go forward into the future, there are many more chapters to this story. Finding my tribe and the place I can bring others to experience some of the things I have learned and to put down roots so our dream is a reality – the dream of forming a real model for aging in community.


The Future: A Dream Come True

My little village is close to town; I can walk to the coffee shop in about 5 minutes. The walk is flat and the sidewalks are wide. As I pass the quaint houses and shops I am thankful for my choice of this small berg. The four seasons give me what I missed in California, yet the mildness of the climate and the amazing Fall and Spring beauty makes my heart sing.

This place grew from a place I visited on my first visit to NC in 2005. I fell in love and knew if I found it once, I could find it again. It is a piece of property that had an existing house on it to use as the common house. We met here, envisioned more, and brought others into the fold here.
We could expand with time and money, effort and love and passion right here.

As I walk there are many people that I know along the way and it takes me some time to get to town. Others along the way inquire about the gardens at BettzPlayz and how things are coming along with our projects. Many of us in our community work and play in the gardens to help as well as stay fit and healthy at the same time. We are able to feed ourselves at our community meals and have much produce leftover to sell as a CSA locally. We all enjoy interacting with others through our CSA, whether it is in delivering the food or welcoming others to our place.

The community house buzzes with activity almost non-stop. We use it to offer workshops about our successful community and what we have learned about forming, norming and storming. The stories we can tell about our experiences brings back many memories and I love to hear the prospective from all assembled the the discussions that follow.

We can accommodate guests in our Community House and there is overflow in our community to welcome those who come, and to further their experience. Someday we will invite caregivers into our community to share that privilege. Our small village of 13 small cottages, like Ross Chapin models, couldn’t be cuter and more easy and lovely in spirit and feeling. The flat terrain, that allows us to visit each other easily and the use of Universal Design adds to our ease of living we all desired.

Also part of the community is our Green House, made known by Dr. Bill Thomas as an alternative to the current care models but that function as our “Turquoise” House until we are ready to move towards the need for more assistance. In the interim, those who desire those accommodations are welcome to rent those spaces and be part of the community until the right time arises and we convert it.

Along with our small cottage neighborhood, we are within ¼ mile of a large house that allows those wanting that experience to live together and share their living space to have it in our community. With private space, including two rooms and a bath to give privacy, they share the large open kitchen and living area welcome all to share.

This is but a small portion of the dream and only the beginning. The process is continual and the additions are rich.

My Journey

“One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.” Margaret Mead

I come home from a long trip to the West Coast exhausted from the time change and the joys of current air travel. As I turn into my driveway, I see my lights are on in my house and the shades are drawn. What a welcome sight for a woman living alone. I’m expected; someone is welcoming me home.

It is my neighbor, Ginny, who has been taking care of the house and my two cats while I visited distant states in my campaign to tout the glories of living in community. In the last 4 years I have encouraged, cajoled, and nudged my fellow Boomers to investigate new ways of spending our lives as we move forward into its second half. [Read more…]

Seasons of Life

Autumn colors in Asheville

I told you I was taking some time off from the computer and my office. I called it my summer sabbatical. I realized as I looked at the lovely Fall colors here in Asheville I could no longer say it is summer. I love writing this and adding pictures. Sharing a few with you. 

There has been a little “work” done this summer. I did a fun “Lunch and Learn” at my local YMCA where I work out. It was great to get out there and talk to a small group of interested folks about my passion. Connection and Community as We Age. It was just an hour, with handouts, exercises and participation. Since then a few of the members who attended stopped me at the gym to say: 

  • “I went through your book. Very helpful!
  • I met my neighbors and we are getting together
  • My husband is getting interested in our next steps”
Lunch & Learn at my local YMCA

November means another turn around the sun for me. I am so grateful! A few years back I allowed myself a celebration that I am so glad I did.

When I listened to the glowing accolades about my parents at their Celebration of Life years ago I promised myself to have that kind of thing BEFORE I was dead. I must say it was a moving experience. It was produced and orchestrated by very talented friends. I highly recommend it!

Linda with Kitty and Linda and I in Florida

There are also changes on the home front.  My housemates have changed. Linda W. is back in sunny Florida, to her chosen community. I miss her, and my forever housemate, Judy is moving into the suite here at Bettyz Playz. 

Judy in Gazebo in summer and Christmas 2021 with Josie

Some of you might know, my two elder kitties Pyewacket (named after the cat in the old movie, Bell Book and Candle) and Persie (short for Persistent) crossed the Rainbow Bridge together on April 6th, 2022. 

PY and Persie

After a period of transition, grieving for my buddies of many decades and many moves I considered fostering cats. Enter Valentine and Ann Marie, siblings that were billed as bonded cats. I renamed them Frankie and Grace (of course). Frankie turned out to be a very smart, large, curious and destructive influence at BP. He was returned to the rescue organization, went back to his original name and got adopted. PHEW.

Grace lives up to her name and is an angel who loves to catch “Da Bird” flying for entertainment.

Which is Grace? Top far right!

I didn’t expect my pause would be so long. Yet a great deal has changed in the world that has affected me and of course others. What I did with my “Pandemic years” included a great deal of time in front of my computer screen. Included were classes I took and some I offered. You also might have seen my face on my Facebook Live offerings that are now on my YouTube station.

That is terrifying and fun all at the same time. I am glad it was available, yet I missed the in-person times.

Bettyz Playz

So what is on the Horizon?

Women for Living in Community will continue, possibly taking new forms and relaxing other things.

I have been at this for over 16 years and I am glad to say I feel I have accomplished my quest.

And there now are many other online resources for connection and camaraderie for older women  Revel, TheEthel, and many FB groups around Golden Girl living. I will keep you in the loop on the ones l like going forward. 

Bettyz Playz – named after my mom, Betty, and a play on words.

Bettyz Playz is my home and location now of the Asheville Golden Girls- Judy and Marianne.

My intention is to host meetings and gatherings/ workshops, salons, book groups, and more. There will be offerings next year to presenters who would like to take advantage of this lovely piece of heaven in Asheville.

This winter I plan on being in Sarasota, FL where I have many friends and community members on the quest through the years. While I am there Judy and Grace will enjoy this haven with visits from friends and family here at Bettyz Playz. 

Progress on MY Quest

Thanks to all of you who have been with me along the way or just joined me. I started out by saying I don’t want to have the later years of my life look like my parents. Well, they don’t for many reasons. And part of it was my intention. And why I have offered you a view of it along the way.

Like many good intentions, mine started out with a FEAR and a negative. I don’t want this.

So I said, “What CAN if do instead?” That was the start of Women for Living in Community many years ago. I won’t go over all the details but I am happy to say as 2022 ends I feel settled. Want to catch up with my quest over the years? From my blog post through the years. Blog of MK’s journey

In a nutshell, my intentions are:

  • To live like the Golden Girls
  • Take risks!
  • Expand my network of friends and community
  • Stay creative and offer what I have learned about the importance of connection as we age
  • Eye on the prize, be tenacious

My mission :

To further the alternative housing choices for people as we age.

My future and 2023 :

Share my journey with others- talk to groups, have conversations, and inspire others to take action.

I shall be sharing more here and on Facebook.

See you soon,

Social Media to stay connected:
Links to My Facebook Personal page

Women Living in Community Network – Home | Facebook

Website link – please subscribe and share Women for Living in Community

Youtube channel Women Living in Community – YouTube

Who’s watching?

It’s been way too long! Glad I said 2021 and beyond in my last communication! It is beyond for sure. Summer is here in North Carolina and my dream of a gathering place here in my home (outside) continues to take shape. I don’t know how many of you know how personally I take this mission of mine. I live it. In the last year along with some other pointed priorities, my personal community has changed. 

I have my own personal journey and experiments in living in a community. I was doing it for me. Along the way, I wanted to share my journey. I have shared it with you in a few ways if you have been with me for a while. Added to some of my communications over the years. You know, website then Facebook Page, and on and on. Wanting to make sure we stay connected. That is part of my mission in Women for Living in Community. Connection, Information and Action.

Recently I posted some pictures on my personal page of the BIG changes on my ½ acre property. You know those sporadic pictures of progress you might see from your friends? Well, one of the more recent ones was a selfie of me in front of the Dept. of Public Works with me and my brand new permit.

Selfie of me with my brand new permit!

I had no idea who was watching my postings. I heard from folks I hadn’t heard from in years. I realized many thought I was still acting as a developer to build my dream of a pocket neighbourhood. I decided to set the record straight. And here it is for you too. 

Thanks to all of you who have been on the journey with me the last 15 years that I have been in Asheville and singing the Aging in Community movement song.

It’s been long and very circuitous. In case you missed a few of the turns. Here goes: some of the facts.

I bought 2/12 acres to build my pocket neighbourhood adjoining my existing property in N. Asheville, NC in 2015 from the matriarch, Faye who had lived on the property through a few husbands and was 80 at the time.

The property was perfect for small community use. The zoning was right, the property was as flat as any in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I even had a design done by the guru of Pocket Neighborhoods, Ross Chapin. For 2 years I talked about it, presented the concept many times and even hired an architect.

Nothing prepared me to be a developer. In 2017 I gave up that dream and adjusted to a new plan. I cut out the  ½ acre with the midcentury ranch brick house from the rest of the 2 ½ acres. I had hoped it would be used as a  common house like meeting space.

In the years since 2017, the house had 4 housemates, the swimming pool was buried and new wiring and HVAC was added. Then the property was remodelled on the inside by a young couple to bring the 4 bedrooms, 3 baths into the 21st century. In May of 2020 while the pandemic raged the young couple and their new baby left to move out of the area.

During the pandemic, I sat talking to my cats about the community concept and we decided to move into the house in August of 2020. More renovations on the outside continued and those are the ones you have seen recently on this page.

Oh, and it isn’t a pocket neighbourhood in the purest way.

What it is, is MY intentional neighbourhood.

I share the house with my housemate, Vicky who has her own 400 sq. ft suite and her own kitchen, bath and entrance. It is perfect for us. I have many neighbours, many of them single women, and I know all my neighbours. I live on a dead-end and very quiet street. I hear the frogs in the creek and the neighbours’ horses snort. Dreams can adapt.

I do want to thank you all for being of support for the last years through all the transitions. I’d like to think I help you just a little to know the persistence has paid off for me. Hope it will for you too. I really do believe there are models that we as women can point the way to, so we can live our later years with joy.

Ready to dream with me? How about making it a reality! 

Live Mondays!

I’m so excited to be back and will be live with you every Monday, 4 pm EDT on the Women For Living In Community Facebook Page, talking about different topics involving community and connection. See you online!

What’s Next for Women Living in Community?

Transitions and Possibilities for 2021 and Beyond

Things seem to be changing rapidly in many parts of life in our society right now, and this holds true for my journey with Women Living in Community. 

In the last few months, some new possibilities have opened up for educating people about aging in community through our network, thanks in part to some successful projects in 2020 and the use of Zoom. 

Before I take on any new projects or technical hurdles though, I want to get clear on where I’m heading and what makes sense to focus on next.

So, I’ll be taking some time over the upcoming months to step back and give everything an honest assessment. 

Looking back…

Despite the pandemic, or perhaps because of it, I feel like 2020 brought me closer to the women in our network than I’ve been in a long time. And, as you can probably relate, this involved plenty of time on Zoom. 

Prior to the pandemic, I had organized a number of in-person workshops based on my guidebook, Your Quest for Home

But this fall, I offered an online class based on my guidebook over Zoom for the first time in response to COVID. 

This wound up including a great group of people, some of whom are still meeting to support each other on their community building projects. 

I also found myself inspired to start doing live weekly videos of my own for a time that were primarily shared on our Facebook page

These videos allowed me to share some of my own experiences as they relate to finding or building the right community. It was also fun to bring out my alter ego The Grand Nudge a couple of times.

Continuing to Learn…

The more experimenting I did with online video, the more I discovered just how much there was to learn and how excited (and terrorized)  I was to learn more and dive in. 

I’ve spent the last year studying and doing training on the technology and presentation chops needed to let me share my knowledge and expertise online effectively. 

My interest in expansion and personal growth also brought me to a course called Modern Elder Academy. Although I’ve always hated the use of the term “elderly,” I found that their take on the term “modern elder” really hit home:  It is defined by MEA as:

“A Modern Elder is the perfect alchemy of curious and wise, with curiosity leading to expansive inquiry while wisdom distills what’s essential. But it’s only through cultivating our wisdom, building emotional intelligence, strengthening intergenerational collaboration, and finding a deeper meaning in our work and personal lives, that we become modern elders.”

MEA is a place we can all “grow whole, not old.” 

I REALLY like that.

Other turning points…

Pretty much all of my educational materials point back to my guidebook, Your Quest for Home, in some way, and it’s been almost 6 years since it was published. 

While I am certain that the book is more relevant than ever now, I’ve been asking myself whether some sections should be tweaked or expanded. So it may be time to turn my attention to a second edition in the future. We shall see.

In other transition news, my right hand person, Todd, is moving on. He has been responsible for a lot of what happens behind the scenes with Women Living in Community. 

Thanks to Todd for technology help, marketing prowess, writing chops, and keeping the lights on. Forever grateful. 

So… what is next? I continue to learn and hope to help you in new and fresh ways to take action to know yourself as you continue Your Quest for Home

Until next time, remember, finding your ideal community for your later years is all about three things: Connection, Information and Action!

11 Video Examples & Discussions of Shared Housing Communities from Around the World

While shared housing has a lot of perks, doing it right can be a daunting task.

Personally, I find it helpful to remind myself of all of the successfully shared houses that there are out there. I’ve lived in some myself, and they’re a ton of them out there that I already know about. I also find out about new ones that I’ve never heard of all of the time.

That’s part of why I wanted to share the videos below with you. They’re just inspiring. But there’s another reason too.

People who have had success with shared housing have already been down a road that you may just be beginning. And most of them have learned the hard way what it takes to make this work. By listening to their stories, we can learn what really matters with this sort of thing and get actionable advice to make our own dreams a reality.

Ready to get inspired?

Here are several uplifting stories about thriving shared houses from around the globe.

This first video is of my friends and I living together in Asheville, North Carolina

This video shows the impact that shared housing has on people facing hard times, including homelessness in Dallas, Texas.

A beautiful example of multigenerational shared living from Australia

Australian news report covering examples of senior shared housing in Tazmania

A group of self-sufficient seniors living together in one of four shared homes created in Chicago by the nonprofit Senior Housing Share

Three Boomers aging in community in Ontario Canada

This Japanese example of a shared house features a younger set of housemates, but it’s pretty neat.

There are also some broader discussions of shared housing that look at the movement more deeply.

In Manchester, UK, people old and young discuss the desperate need for shared housing in their community.

Organizers Pat Dunn and Louise Bardswich discuss shared housing within the Aging in Community movement in Canada.

Margaret Manning and Bonnie Moore dig into why so many women over 60 are interested in shared housing.

Finally, I recently filmed a short video of my own covering what I have found works and what doesn’t from my own experiences with shared housing.

If you have found these videos helpful, join the conversation on Facebook.

And if you are ready to dig deeper, I have a next step for you to take.

I recently put together a FREE exercise just for you that I think you’ll find helpful. It’s actually repurposed from my book, Your Quest for Home.

It’s called Casting a Wider Net in 4 Easy Steps. It’s a mind mapping exercise designed to get you heading in the right direction when you are thinking of who might live in your shared house. While it’s designed for folks who are in the planning stage of creating their community, it should be interesting regardless of where you are in your journey.

To receive it, simply enter your email address below, and I’ll get it right to you. And if you decide to put it to work, please let me know! Seriously, I love that kind of feedback.

Sign up below to receive my free exercise for finding your people!

Feeling inspired to take the next step? Great!
Sign up now for my FREE exercise for finding potential community partners, Casting a Wider Net in 4 Easy Steps.

Please note: we do not share or sell your email information.

6 Shared Housing Books that Belong on Your Shelf

Wherever you are on your journey with Aging in Community, chances are that somebody has been there before. When it comes to the option of shared housing, we are lucky enough to have several people who have written some pretty great books about.

Below you’ll find six books that offer different perspectives on what shared housing is all about. Some of them tell the stories of people who have managed to make living with friends under one roof work for them. Others offer practical advice and exercises that you can put to work for yourself.

My House, Our House: Living Far Better for Far Less in a Cooperative Household by Karen M. Bush, Louis S. Machinist, and Jean McQuillin 

my house our house book cover

Authored by three female Boomers with plenty of hands-on experience with shared housing, My House, Our House belongs on the bookshelves of any reader who’s serious about sharing a home with others as they age. 

This book addresses the many challenges and perks of coliving as we age, particularly with other perennial women. The three trail-blazing women share their own journey of creating community with one another under a shared roof and what they learned along the way.

Told with humor, affection, and honesty, this book invites the reader to explore the challenges, practicalities, and joys of moving from “my house” to “our house.” 

If you’d like to learn more about this book, I encourage you to read my blog post spotlighting My House, Our House.

How to Start a Golden Girls Home by Bonnie Moore

One of the most common questions that I get when I share my own experience of living in a real world Golden Girls home is this:

“How can I find a community just like this for myself?”

While there are some ways of finding spaces and roommates for elder women out there, the truth is that most Golden Girls homes are created DIY by the women who want them the most.

That’s why I am so grateful that a book like How to Start a Golden Girls Home is out there. While it doesn’t happen overnight, creating a setting like this for yourself isn’t rocket science. Bonnie Moore shows us all how in this book with a guide that starts with finding the right people through handling sticky situations like pets and conflicts. 

Sharing Housing: A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates by Annamarie Pluhar

“Everyone has this universal understanding of roommate drama,” as actress Leighton Meester put it in one of my favorite quotes about shared housing.

Annamarie Pulmar knows this well, which may have been why she designed her book to serve as “a guidebook for finding and keeping good housemates.” It definitely delivers on this premise. 

Within the pages the reader will find concrete, actionable advice, such as: 

  • How to eliminate inappropriate people quickly and safely
  • How to write an ad
  • How to negotiate the details of living together
  • What kind of background checks and references are helpful

The book continues with chapters on actually living together what to expect and how to manage.

Your Quest for Home by Marianne Kilkenny

While it’s about more than just shared housing, I’m including my own book on this list because it offers relevant material that other books leave out. 

Your Quest for Home is designed to provide readers with a roadmap for taking ownership of their own journey with Aging in Community. It serves as a guidebook for figuring out what you are looking for in a community and how to find it.

When it comes to shared housing, far too many sit around waiting for the perfect opportunity to fall in their lap, which rarely happens. If you are ready to take the initiative and start finding the people you want to live with and figure out how, when, and where you’re going to make that happen, I encourage you to pick up a copy of your own.

Shared Living: Interior Design for Rented and Shared Spaces by Emily Hutchinson

Released in late 2019, Emily Hutchinson’s new book tackle’s another important topic to shared housing: optimizing the physical spaces that we share together. 

She wrote her book specifically for people who are currently living with roommates or are planning on doing it in the near future. And she covers just about every issue that I can think of when it comes to sharing residential spaces, such as merging styles and identifying what matters most when you are looking for a space.

Understanding that many people choose to live in shared housing in part for economic reasons, she also offers some practical advice on making the most of what you have, DIY interior design options from scratch, and sourcing one-of-a-kind elements by upcycling and finding great deals. 

Shared Living also offers a ton of examples of what roommates have come up with from around the country, including an impressive number of color illustrations.  

The Ladies of Covington Series by Joan Medlicott

Written by local author Joan Medlicott (one of my favorite people) from here in my home city of Asheville, the Ladies of Covington books occupy a special place in my heart. 

Starting with The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love, the entire series is an inspiring delight. Join this household of elder women as they make their way from a sad Pennsylvania boardinghouse to create a home for themselves in the mountains of western North Carolina. 

These books are a part of a literary genre referred to as Matron Lit, a subcategory of Boomer Lit, where older women are the primary protagonists. The Ladies of Covington Series is a favorite among fans for showing strong women choosing to live together to enhance their lives and relationships.

If you have found these books helpful yourself or know of others, join the conversation on Facebook.

If you are thinking about living in a shared house or have one already, I have another step for you to take.

I have released a FREE exercise just for you. It’s an excerpt from my book on finding your ideal community, Your Quest for Home.

It’s called Casting a Wider Net if 4 Easy Steps, and it’s designed to help you identify potential community collaborators in your network. In the exercise, I walk you through a four-part process of creating a mindmap that identifies people in your network who could be a good fit for your community in ever-expanding circles. Even if you are further down the road than the brainstorming stage, you still might find it interesting.

To receive it, simply sign up using the form below, and I’ll get it right to you. And if you decide to put it to work, please let me know! Seriously, I love that kind of feedback.

Sign up below to receive my free exercise for finding your people!

Feeling inspired to take the next step? Great!
Sign up now for my FREE exercise for finding potential community partners, Casting a Wider Net in 4 Easy Steps.

Please note: we do not share or sell your email information.

Aging in Community 2019 Update

Progress in the Aging in Community Movement: 

Three Themes You Need to Know About

In 2019, today’s elders are taking ownership of aging in community like never before. As I’ve been tracking the developments, some major themes have started standing out, and I’d like to take this opportunity to share them with you now. 

When I look at the movement today, I’m equally excited by how far we’ve come in some areas and daunted by how far we still have to go in others.

Recent trends in aging in community show a generation that is revolutionizing how people we will live in our homes and stay connected with the community as we age. I outline what I view as some of the biggest successes and challenges of our movement below.

Together, we stand poised to change the face of aging in our society. But we’ll only get there if we show up and do what it takes. 

I’ve been hard at work for the last several months working on my own foundation for aging in community. I urge you to do the same.

Theme #1: Aging in Community Approaches Critical Mass

When I first started writing, speaking, and organizing about this topic more than ten years ago, there weren’t that many people who were talking about aging in community. There were just a handful of leaders out there with a limited audience of people who were taking the topic seriously. 

And it was a little frustrating sometimes talking over and over with people who seemed to be waiting for someone else to build their ideal community for them and just tell them about. And that’s NOT how it works.

But I don’t feel like I’m a lone voice in the night anymore. Today, it feels like we are turning a corner with enough of us waking up. More people than ever are taking ownership of how and where they are going to age and who they are going to do it with. There is a momentum caused by enough people getting involved and becoming for the change they want to see in the world that the Aging in Community movement is making real progress. 

Charles Durrett leading a cohousing workshop

I see this in news sources I watch where there are headlines about new communities, housing alternatives, related housing initiatives, and resources in the news everyday. 

I see it in changes in legislation like the Golden Girls Act up in Canada. 

I see this in educational programs and workshops that are taking place this year like Charles Durrett’s workshop at the 2019 National Cohousing Conference. I have a presentation coming up myself introducing alternative housing choices to a new group near Asheville, NC locally at a retreat in October 2019 called 50Forward.  

I also see this in the thriving online communities that are really growing and buzzing with activity, particularly on Facebook. Some are general interest groups about housing alternatives for older folks like Sixty and Me. Others serve the needs of specific groups, such as Elder OrphansWomen Living in Community, and Decolonizing the Crone

And it’s all happening because enough people are showing up and making it happen. 

Theme #2: Boomers are Leading the Residential Revolution in Community Building, Especially Cohousing

Interest in community living has also really picked up steam for people of all ages have gotten tired of living in an isolated world and refuse to do it anymore. But its older people who are leading the charge in most cases, cohousing in particular. 

More than 160 cohousing communities have been formed in the United States since it was introduced to the country in the 1980’s. At least 125 additional cohousing communities are being developed right now. 

And, if you visit most of them, you’ll find that the founders and most of the people living there tend to be  boomers who have chosen to age in community and made it happen. 

If you would like to dig deeper on this trend, I have some further resources below:

Theme #3: Unprecedented Pace in Creating More Alternative Structures & Repurpose Existing Structures for Aging in Community 

It doesn’t seem like a month has gone by that I haven’t heard of some exciting new developments in alternative housing design. And most of these structures are designed for boomers who have realized that they are the first generation to be able to choose what types of structures they are going to age in a way that no generation before could have dreamed was possible. 

Here are a couple of examples of alternative structures that can easily be incorporated into aging in community.

Minka Homes

The latest creation of Dr. Bill Thomas, Minka believe it’s time for a new housing story. Minka designs, pre-fabricates and delivers sensibly-sized kit homes that can either stand alone, act as accessory dwelling units or be combined to develop pocket neighborhoods.

She Sheds

A small building separate from the main home, reserved specifically for the use of an adult woman, in which she can relax and pursue her interests. While they were designed to be the female equivalent of an outdoor man cave, they can also provide community designers with interesting options for pocket neighborhoods.

Repurposing Existing Properties for Seniors in 2019

At the same time, there is a growing interest in finding innovative new ways of repurposing structures that we already have. And seniors sharing homes has been on the rise for a while now.

Several years ago, I lived in a community for seniors on this model in which I lived with a handful of other great women (click here for a video all about it). Together, we lived in a house that was originally designed for an average family that we repurposed for aging in community as women living together in an intentional environment.

Here are three examples of similar projects that are getting off the ground in 2019.

  • The Oak Hill coliving home is an example of something similar that formed in 2019 thanks to Canada’s Golden Girl Act. 
  • Hibiscus Commons is a new senior cooperative housing project that is part of the Bay Area Community Land Trust that has a focus on exploring affordable options. They are doing so by finding ways to repurpose unused or underutilized properties. 
  • Village Hearth is an LGBT-focused, ages 55+, community in Durham, NC, with 15 acres of wooded land just 20 minutes from downtown. 

These are just a few examples of the types of projects that have gotten established recently. There are many more.

My recent experience with some of the above:

Until early 2019, I was developing a pocket neighborhood that was designed to incorporate both repurposing an existing home and building new modular structures for aging in community. 

This included using a mid-century ranch house that would have functioned as a community center and coliving opportunity for a few people, plus a series of six to twelve modular homes for people desiring shared space.

You can learn more about this project in my own 2019 personal update

Moving forward and what’s to come

The Grand Nudge wants you to take ownership of whether and how you age in community.

While there’s a lot to be excited about in the world of aging in community, it’s important to understand that your ideal community isn’t just going to land on your doorstep in 2019 or any time soon. As some of you know, that’s a message that The Grand Nudge believes in very strongly.

It’s up to you to take ownership of how you age and be the captain of your own quest for home. If you are new to the topic or could use some tools in exploring this journey, I encourage you to explore my book, My Quest for Home.

And there’s also a lot that still needs to happen moving forward within the Aging in Community movement, particularly in the areas of affordable housing, getting local governments on board, and creating good matching services for senior housing. 

I hope that you found this update on themes I’m seeing in the Aging in Community helpful. 

If you’re not already signed up, be sure to subscribe for updates from the Women Living in Community Network now. That’s the easiest way to know when a new post has been published. 

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[VIDEO] Marianne & Friends in “When I’m 65” Recording – Aging in Community

I want to share a video that I did with my friends a while back.

I’m passing this along because I think it encapsulates something important that I want you to really see.

Aging in community is beautiful and real, and it’s something that you can really do

Yes, it takes some planning, discernment, and guts. It requires investing some time, money, and hard work.

But when it all comes together, the rewards are worth it.

This is how we as women were meant to live. Together in community, supporting one another as we age in a nourishing and heart-centered environment.

It’s something that you can do to0. And you might be closer to making it a reality than you think

Maybe you already have a group of friends who would be perfect for this sort of thing if you could find the right spot. Or maybe you already have access to a house, condo, or complex and just need to find your tribe.

Speaking as The Grand Nudge for a moment, you’ve got take ownership of where you are going to end up as you age. You can’t keep waiting for someone to build your community for you and track you down to tell you about it.

If you’re ready to get started with or reassess your aging in community journey, I’ve got some questions for you.

These questions form the basis of my Guidebook, “Your Quest for Home”, and help you define how you wish to live in your later years.

I’ve created a free download of these questions that I encourage you to download. If you haven’t already joined the Women Living in Community network, sign up now and I’ll send it right over.

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If you are already a subscriber, you can access the questions from my book here.

An Update from Marianne

It’s been a while since I have posted here on Women Living in Community.

That’s because I’ve been actively engaged in some community building projects that are close to my part. I’ve learned a lot along the way, and I want to take a moment to get you up to speed and share some of my journey with you.

In the past couple of years, I’ve watched as the topic of aging in community has a central narrative in the media as the Boomers grapple with how they want to spend their later years.

Having been a pioneer in this area for over a decade, I’ve appeared in some of the news coverage and had an opportunity to share my perspective. I’ve also had a chance to track the course of some exciting developments that community developers, architects, and designers are creating to solve the problems posed by multi-generational housing.

Along the way, I’ve been hard at work on some projects of my own, which is what I’d like to update you on today. These projects include developing an intentional neighborhood here in Asheville, participating in the Residential Living Academy (RAL), and building a tribe of my own.

So where have I been?

Developing an Intentional Neighborhood in Asheville, NC

At one point, I thought I wanted to be a developer.

I bought a house with an adjacent property and spent years struggling, like Sisyphus, uphill.

I tried everything I could think of, and, while I had a lot of potential interest, no one could help me start the process. I simply couldn’t do it alone.

There was so much to work out. Ranging from infrastructure and zoning to housing design to homeowners agreements, I needed the right people to show up in order for it to come together.

I worked endlessly with the developer, builders, various experts, and officials. I worked closely with several people who were very interested in living here. But the people I needed didn’t show no matter how hard I tried.

And so, one year ago, I sold my property to a developer. The hope was to build several modular homes in the site and expand into a final vision for a pocket neighborhood.

Today, the property is still undeveloped. The project of developing the property may continue, but that is no longer in my hands and unlikely to have community baked into its design.

That’s because it became clear that pocket neighborhood I had envisioned was not meant to be. I realized that I had to let go, and I didn’t have to do it alone.

I held a letting go ceremony with the help of some close friends who had joined or supported me on my journey. This process included the burning of some documents connected with my vision and kind words from friends who had been involved in the project.

Over the next few months, I spent some time in the morning looking out my kitchen window at the larger property, working on letting go. Noticing the wind, rain, snow, and sunshine come and go over those mornings, and something in me eventually shifted.

I was ready to truly let go and had made room in my heart for what comes next. The final step in the process was to build a small fire in the same ashes as the fire of the original ceremony with some time quiet reflection. I was pretty much ready to move on.  

What I learned along the way, yet again, is that I really am a visionary. And being a visionary is great, but sometimes it is just not enough. That’s a valuable lesson and something I’m actively working on applying in my life.

Things change, and that’s okay.

So, I came within fifteen feet of my dream, literally. There are some steps just outside my driveway that lead down to an open lot where the community would have been.

While it’s true that I don’t have the type of community that I had envisioned, I wound up developing deep ties with my neighbors during the process. In fact, I ended up with a pretty awesome intentional neighborhood of my own along the way that I’m grateful to call home.

After I sold the land, I put my intention out to the universe. Living in a community of like-minded people was still what I wanted. Since that time, all of the homes around me have become an organically grown community.

Our intentional neighborhood as it stands today was born out of proximity. We’re all walking distance within one another and through fostering relationships we’ve come together over shared meals, a community garden, and more. The neighborhood is made up of renters, homeowners, and housemates of diverse ages and backgrounds.

A big test of our community came when a guest in my own home needed emergency services. When they saw the red flashing lights outside my house, one neighbor called to make sure I was okay. Although the emergency personnel had the situation under control, it sure felt good to know at that moment that someone in our little place was looking out for me and had my back.

We’re there for one another in good and bad times. We’re one phone call away if there’s an emergency or a celebration.

I’m also renovating the brick ranch house that was going to serve as the community house of my pocket neighborhood, and it came out fantastic. I’ve always thought that this house could serve as a great model for shared senior living, a la Golden Girls. And I’m more excited now than ever about its potential.

It’s got a completely new kitchen that can serve as the heart of the home, remodeled bathrooms, improved storage facilities, and more. I look forward to possibly opening this property up for community living again sometime in 2020.

During my sabbatical, here’s what else I got up to!

Tribe Training

In 2017, I wrote about Tribe Training, and I am pleased to say this experience has been transformative. There are 6 people in our group all local to the Asheville area.

What I didn’t realize before this experience was that a group of people who don’t live together can forge even deeper connections than the typical intentional community. We rely on each other, we have each other’s backs, and we’re all interested in building community.

I love the structure, the commitment, and ritual of our dedicated time together. They have become my chosen family and we have learned to grow and age together in a way that’s different than other relationships.

Residential Living Academy

I also attended the Residential Assisted Living Academy in Phoenix Arizona in May of 2018. Started by Gene Guarino, it’s a method of designing residential communities to incorporate an assisted living home within neighborhoods rather than the prisons we’ve designed as the medical model or Continuing Care Residential Communities (CCRC) facilities.

His model targets real estate and business partners for what he calls “doing well and doing good.” Once in place, his concepts can immediately benefit elders living within neighborhood environments. Through my training there, I realized the impact that one person could have in the training of others to embrace this new idea.

I also learned more about why there is so much interest and investment going into viable models for senior housing. As Boomers continue to age, more and more of us are insisting on alternatives to the options that our parents may have had. We want to stay connected as we age, and we want to stay in our homes as long as we age.

And that leads to major investment opportunities for real estate investors and developers who are can stay ahead of the curve. Having learned what I have by going through RAL, I’ve got a better toolbox than ever for aligning my mission with investors and realtors.

Media Exposure and Public Appearances

I’ve also participated in several interviews and feature articles on a variety of media sources, like Parade Magazine and the Washington Post.

Sometimes it’s difficult to see yourself through someone else’s eyes, but both of these articles made me recognize that I was a leader and a pioneer in this movement and I am excited that others are seeing what the future could be.

I’ve been featured quite a bit over the years in the news, television, and radio. That’s because I think that it’s important that we keep having crucial conversations about we live and age together, both with one another and in the public sphere. Moving forward, I’m looking forward to being out there more in the media and continuing to push for the solutions I believe in for living in community.

Upcoming Speaking Engagement

What happens next that I’m excited about? I’ll be speaking at the Living Well annual retreat in Asheville this October. The event promotes the creation of community for a happier and healthier lifestyle.

Where do I go from here? Join me and find out with me!

I did take some time away on what I referred to as a sabbatical from Women Living in Community itself.

And I know the journey is never complete. I have long talked about the mission of living in community and what that looks like. It takes a lot of forms, from my shared home that was featured on NBC to an intentional neighborhood like my own.

It’s not at all the end of my story. It’s not even the beginning. It’s part of an ever-evolving journey that will take me any number of places. When people ask me “What’s next?” I’ve had to get used to saying, “I don’t know.” I don’t like the answer, but I’m comfortable with what it means for now.

It’s time for me to take something I love, Women for Living in Community, and broaden it to encompass the entire Boomer cohort looking for a new way to pave the road ahead. This isn’t just for women, it’s for everyone.

Women for Living in Community can and will take many forms. I’m here to help others on their own paths as they age in place and in community.

It’s time to let Marianne out of the box. There is a lot we can do around alternative housing choices and to engage with that is the next phase of me.

Until next time, it’s a movement!

So stay connected by signing up below.

I’ll be sharing more of my journey, community building resources, and updates on the Aging in Community movement!

Women For Living in Community